Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Oshima Character Analysis

Oshima works at the Komura Memorial Library. He is an avid reader and impeccable dresser. Oshima is polite but reserved, only sharing his deeper struggles with those closest to him. Oshima is a transgender man, and sometimes feels alienated or discriminated against because of this. He is also a hemophiliac, and so has to be constantly vigilant to avoid serious injury. For these reasons, he sometimes feels that his body is frustratingly imperfect. He demonstrates the theme of the mind/body split, because he sees his body as an imperfect container for his mind. He often muses on his own death, intentionally driving recklessly to tempt fate. However, he finds solace in classical music, the library, and engaging Kafka in discussions about philosophy and literature.

Oshima Quotes in Kafka on the Shore

The Kafka on the Shore quotes below are all either spoken by Oshima or refer to Oshima. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Kafka on the Shore published in 2006.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“In ancient times, people weren’t just male or female, but one of three types: male/male, male/female, or female/female. In other words, each person was made out of the components of two people. Everyone was happy with this arrangement and never really gave it much thought. But then God took a knife and cut everybody in half, right down the middle. So after that the world was divided just into male and female, the upshot being that people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing other half.”

Oshima and Kafka have just met for the first time. Oshima engages Kafka in a surprisingly deep conversation about the nature of the soul. Indeed, this quote reveals much about Oshima’s worldview, and foreshadows later conversations he will have with Kafka, as their friendship develops, about his own gender identity. Oshima’s story helps to explain why many characters in the novel feel as if they are being drawn towards each other by forces outside of their control or knowledge, as well as why characters feel so comfortable with each other so soon after meeting: perhaps they are actually two halves of the same soul, reunited at last. However, another side to that theory is that soulmates are codependent—and, until they meet, are less than complete. One possible danger of a belief in soulmates is that it suggests that someone who has not found their soul mate is less than whole, and therefore cannot possibly have a fulfilling life. Finally, Oshima’s story relates to his gender identity, something that he keeps private from Kafka until later. Oshima identifies as a gay transgender man, but because he faces prejudice from others who don’t know about his identity or perceive him as female, Oshima often feels conflicted about his gender, making him another example of the ways in which the novel deals with the split between the mind (or the self) and the body.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Oshima (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Chapter 13 Quotes

“If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I’m driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of—that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 111-112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

I’m being tested, I tell myself. Oshima spent a few days alone here, too, when he was about my age. He must have been scared out of his wits, same as me. That’s what he meant by solitude comes in different varieties. Oshima knows exactly how I feel being here alone at night, because he’s gone through the same thing, and felt the same emotions.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Oshima
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“Miss Saeki’s life basically stopped at age twenty, when her lover died. No, maybe not age twenty, maybe much earlier…I don’t know the details, but you need to be aware of this. The hands of the clock buried inside her soul ground to a halt then.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura, Miss Saeki
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

“But what disgusts me even more are people who have no imagination. The kind T.S. Eliot calls hollow men. People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they’re doing.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“My father told me there was nothing I could to escape this fate. That prophecy is like a timing device buried inside my genes, and nothing can ever change it. I will kill my father and be with my mother and sister.

Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 35 Quotes

“There are a lot of things that aren’t your fault. Or mine, either. Not the fault of prophecies, or curses, or DNA, or absurdity. Not the fault of structuralism or the Third Industrial Revolution. We all die and disappear, but that’s because the mechanism of the world itself is built on destruction and loss.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 37 Quotes

“I know how you feel,” he finally says. “But this is something you have to figure out on your own. Nobody can help you. That’s what love’s all about, Kafka.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura, Miss Saeki
Page Number: 351
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

He’d resigned himself to the fact that it was only a matter of time before this day came. But now that it had, and he was alone in this quiet room with a dead Miss Saeki, he was lost. He felt as if his heart had dried up.

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Miss Saeki
Page Number: 395
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Kafka on the Shore LitChart as a printable PDF.
Kafka on the Shore PDF

Oshima Character Timeline in Kafka on the Shore

The timeline below shows where the character Oshima appears in Kafka on the Shore. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...local hotel and heads to the Komura Memorial Library outside of town. There, he meets Oshima, an extremely well-dressed, composed young librarian, who tells him about the library’s collection of classics... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
Kafka spends another day reading at the Komura library, and reveals to Oshima that he never plans to return to home or school, but he is hesitant to... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
At the Komura library, Oshima offers Kafka some lunch and engages him in a conversation about the turn-of-the-century Japanese novelist... (full context)
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...at ease by the conversation, Kafka reveals that he has nowhere to stay and asks Oshima for help. Surprisingly, Oshima has a solution: if Miss Saeki agrees, Kafka can live in... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
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When the library closes, Kafka and Oshima get in Oshima’s green Mazda Miata and speed off down the highway. Oshima tells Kafka... (full context)
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Music and Introspection Theme Icon
To further this point, Oshima puts Schubert’s Sonata in D Major on the CD player. He explains that it is... (full context)
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Finally, several hours after they leave the library, Kafka and Oshima arrive at a small log cabin deep in the forest. Oshima tells Kafka that his... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Telling Kafka that he will return in a couple of days, Oshima drives away in the Miata, leaving Kafka alone in the dark woods. Kafka tries to... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...for inventing ways to kill Jews during World War II. Previously, the book belonged to Oshima, and Kafka sees that Oshima has scribbled some margin notes: “Our responsibility begins with the... (full context)
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Despite Oshima’s warning, Kafka decides to venture into the woods. Almost immediately, he becomes disoriented and is... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...and darkness of the labyrinth-like woods, he is perfectly at peace. On the fourth day, Oshima returns while Kafka is napping, naked, on the porch of the cabin. Kafka tells Oshima... (full context)
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On the drive back to the city, Oshima observes that Kafka seems to be both seeking something and running away for all he’s... (full context)
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For the rest of the drive, Oshima tells Kafka the story of Miss Saeki’s troubled past. As a child, she fell in... (full context)
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Music and Introspection Theme Icon
...to Tokyo to record the song, which soon became a hit. The strange thing, says Oshima, is that the song is called “Kafka on the Shore.” Just as the song was... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...lived when they were both teenagers. She keeps others at a distance, speaking only to Oshima with any regularity. She seems to be frozen in time, unable to move past her... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Oshima helps Kafka settle into his spartan but comfortable room at the library, and shows him... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...two serious-looking women enter the library and begin to wander around, taking notes. They tell Oshima that they are representatives from a women’s organization, touring public places and cultural sites to... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Kafka, too, is surprised. Oshima explains that he may be a little different, but he’s still a regular person. That... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Oshima gives Kafka a newspaper article titled, “SCULPTOR KOICHI TAMURA STABBED TO DEATH.” The article reports... (full context)
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The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...the police, because he doesn’t want to be forced to return to Tokyo and school. Oshima is supportive but points out that Kafka will have to be on the run from... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Kafka and Oshima decide Kafka will lay low in the library for a few days. Then, Kafka reveals... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Oshima points out that the prophecy can’t be true, because someone else killed Koichi. But Kafka... (full context)
Chapter 23
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The next day, Kafka asks Oshima if he can help him find an original record of “Kafka on the Shore.” Oshima... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Luckily, Oshima finds a copy of the record later that day. The picture on the cover of... (full context)
Chapter 25
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The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
Later that day at the library, Oshima and Kafka discuss the dreamlike lyrics of “Kafka on the Shore.” They both agree that... (full context)
Chapter 27
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The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
The next day, a detective stops by the library and chats with Oshima. Hoping to find and question Kafka, the police have tracked Koichi Tamura’s stolen cell phone... (full context)
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Oshima says the police also told him that Kafka had been suspended more than once for... (full context)
Chapter 31
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That evening, Kafka and Oshima have dinner together. Kafka talks about the difficulty of being in love, and Oshima agrees.... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Back at the library, Oshima comments on the fact that Kafka took all of his possessions with him to the... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Oshima wakes Kafka up with an early morning phone call and tells him to gather his... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Oshima and Kafka arrive at the cabin, where Oshima reiterates that he thinks it would be... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
As Oshima is leaving, he reiterates his warning to Kafka not to wander into the woods. He... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...Monday, the Komura Memorial Library is closed, but Hoshino and Nakata return the next morning. Oshima greets them at the door and then they settle down to read. Oshima and Hoshino... (full context)
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...in to read, but Nakata suddenly ascends the steps to Miss Saeki’s private office, ignoring Oshima’s protestations. Nakata tells Miss Saeki he wants to talk about the entrance stone. She gives... (full context)
Chapter 42
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After the library closes, Oshima goes upstairs to Miss Saeki’s office. She is facedown on her desk—dead. Although he had... (full context)
Chapter 45
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...take Kafka to one of the houses, which is the same size and shape as Oshima’s cabin. Inside, however, this cabin has electricity. The soldiers tell Kafka that he’ll wait here... (full context)
Chapter 47
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Somehow, Kafka stumbles back through the woods to Oshima’s cabin. Feeling as if waves are overcoming his mind, he slips into sleep. (full context)
Chapter 49
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To Kafka’s surprise, it is Oshima’s brother who picks him up from the cabin. On the drive back, Kafka says that... (full context)
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Back at the library, Oshima tells Kafka that Miss Saeki died of a heart attack. He says he believes that... (full context)